Competency Questions



Hey everyone,
I am currently applying for an internship at BDO, and I have reached the first interview stage. I am starting to worry about the competency based questions (i.e when have you demonstrated leadership? When have you had to demonstrate initiative?) as the jobs I have had previously have been rather mundane and required very little team-working. Can anyone suggest alternatives to actual work experience (e.g sports, uni work) that will be considered good responses to these types of questions?


Well done on the interview!

I always talk about my dissertation (initiative: developing a concept, producing work for a deadline, research, organising my time) and for leadership I talk about organising events at Uni/school and how I took charge of situations and delegated to people.

You can talk about literally any situation, so school, Uni and sports are all fine. Don’t worry too much about exactly “what” you are talking about - you just need to demonstrate that you have shown the competencies in question and talk intelligently and coherently.

If you haven’t seen them already have a look at - and

Good luck with BDO!


I had a competency based interview last week and I was very concerned just like you beforehand. I’ve done a couple of jobs in my life both of which could have been performed by a well-trained monkey, however the way I discussed them would leave the listener with the impression that I was an integral part of a massively successful multinational.

I had to dig really deep into my memory to think of examples of leadership, teamwork etc but I think you will find that they are there. My biggest tip would be to really think about how each example really displays that particular competency. A couple of times during my interview I was asked to elaborate. For example, when asked about “achievement of goals” I discussed a time when I aimed to get the top assessment marks in a particular module at uni, but the interviewer probed and asked me how I went about planning to achieve this. I had to think quick to explain that I set out a research timetable, went to find the original sources for my essays, ensured no other work would distract me while completing this particular assessment etc. My problem was that I had thought about a particular example of goal achievement but hadn’t thought in depth about what I did to accomplish it.

Just try to relax, flesh out your examples and rehearse the questions that always come out “why BDO”, “what do you expect of the training” and “why the service line”. I found that by rehearsing those career motivation answers in depth I went into the interview with a bit more confidence knowing I would answer some questions well. Another tip, which I’m sure you are already doing, is to swot up on some business issues like Northern Rock, SARBOX, credit crunch and to ask a couple of questions relating to these at the end of the interview to leave a good final impression.